How I Came to Faith
By Youval Yanay
I was born in Israel into a secular Jewish family with roots in the Land stretching back generations. My great-grandfather was a pioneer farmer in the Galilee. My father was a commander in the Palmach naval fighting units, starting before the Israeli War of Independence. But I always felt different, as if I didn’t belong. I had to search for a reason to wake up each morning. This brought me to rebellion and some very strange places – Eastern Religion, religiosity, workaholism, illegal drugs, alcohol and other dark places. I suffered much, wounded others and was wounded. I was an angry person – lacking self-confidence, closed and confused. I was looking for the secret that would give me freedom and happiness, but had lost almost all hope.
There was a point when everything around me began to collapse. The restaurants I owned and managed in Tel Aviv ceased to be viable. I lost my money. I had to sell most of my possessions and lawyers took the rest. I couldn’t find a job and felt more humiliated than ever. I left the luxury apartment I was renting and moved back in with my parents. I didn’t even have money for food or bus fare, and began to contemplate death.
I sank lower and lower, until one day, on a vacation in Cyprus that my parents paid for, I was offered a job as a scuba diving instructor, something I had always dreamed of doing. I felt that a door was opening in my life, letting in a ray of light.
As I was getting settled in my new job, my roommate invited me to go with him to church. I don’t know why, but I went. I entered the church building several minutes late when all of a sudden the Holy Spirit presence of God, came down upon me – without me understanding what was happening. I felt a huge love; I saw a great light. I thought that an optical trick had been played on me in the church building. In a moment of grace, I was able to see for the first time with the eyes of my spirit. His love has not left me to this day.
I received a Bible and began to read the words of God. I felt as if my eyes were opened and suddenly I could see. The life story of Yeshua made me fall in love with Him, and even the Hebrew Scriptures seemed completely new. At a certain moment the week after, I suddenly discovered that I believed every word of the Bible was literally true.
Since then many wonderful things have happened to me. Yeshua is with me always. He guides me, comforts me, teaches me, gives me wonderful gifts, and, most especially, He promises me that His love is constant and that He will never leave me.
After this wonderful transformation in my life began, I was blessed to have the opportunity to grow in the Gateways Beyond discipleship community on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. It was there where I first heard Asher Intrater teach. It was also there where I met my Swiss-born wife, Valerie.
Fast-forward 15 years. We now have six wonderful children. Valerie and I continue to develop the vision of a family-based, daily-interacting faith community as a place for growth and healing. We are privileged and excited to lead the Revive Israel discipling community and farm center – a new platform for evangelism and discipleship in the Judean Hills, just west of Jerusalem.